Never be silenced
ESSENCE - Liagaya Rabago-Visaya (The Freeman) - August 22, 2019 - 12:00am

Last August 20 demonstrated another student power that merits attention. With an end goal to assert academic freedom, University of the Philippines (UP) students and employees joined in a system-wide walkout to challenge police and military intervention in schools.

The system-wide walkout came after Senator Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa proposed expanding the military presence in state universities to curb recruitment and alleged abduction of students by leftist groups.

For the UP community, in times when the very institution and freedom are under attack, there is a need to start aggregate action and assert rights for the university. Such battle for the university is moored on the requirement for it to remain a zone of peace and a haven for the oppressed and marginalized, where scholarly opportunity flourishes in the interest for true social change.

Letting police officers and soldiers into UP's campuses may result in “massive” surveillance and monitoring on students, faculty, and officials, especially those who are vocally critical. And so academic freedom is at high risk of being taken away from us as we become vulnerable to baseless accusations, intimidation and harassment.

The police and military personnel should not interfere with campus activities related to democratic freedoms of expression, the freedom to be critical of or to criticize policies and issues that affect us.

Verifiably, as far back as the 1950s, the university has been the rearing ground of numerous intellectuals and radical activists. Thus it shocks no one, at that point, that during the 1960s and 1970s, the university assumed a role in conducting demonstrations, marches, and rallies to bring issues to light of sectoral battles and to crusade against the tyranny and land reform policy.

Student activists worked up the majority of youth and the working class to lead protest actions, from the March 1961 exhibition of 5,000 UP student demonstrators that left the counter socialist witch chase of the Committee on Anti-Filipino Activities (CAFA) to the 1970 First Quarter Storm that shook the National Capital Region.

In 1971, students who framed the "Diliman Commune," bolstered by employees and non-scholastic work force, occupied the Diliman grounds and blockaded streets to dissent falling condition in the country during the administration. Salvador P. Lopez, then president, asked the students, faculty, and employees to maintain the autonomy of the university as the military looked for control of the grounds so as to distinguish those who were critical of the administration.

Student activism was relevant during the Martial Law of Marcos on the grounds that there was suppression inside grounds, even the education system itself was being assaulted, and the customary students were feeling it, thus the movement grew and delivered mass actions.

What's more, this leads now for others to scrutinize the importance of present dissents. Others have a contrary way for looking at walkouts that citizens of a modern democracy have more viable approaches to partake than rampaging, and that comparatively we should engage students to harness the interminably all the more convincing methods for driving our country and affecting basic change, and not simply to deploy their skills past walkouts and rallies. Be that as it may, reality remains that there were certain progressions borne out from student protests that we, and particularly our present young people, have reaped tremendously.

Furthermore, for UP, the "Iskolar ng Bayan", an intense force not just as a result of the exceptional ability and idealism yet bearing the special weight of some time or another demonstrating that they are deserving of carrying the country’s name. Padayon, UP!

RONALD "BATO" DELA ROSA
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